The county suspects there may be illegal septic waste dumping into Rockdale’s sewage system after detecting spikes near the Honey Creek and Almon Branch treatment plants.
Rockdale Water Resource Deputy Director Dr. Terrell Gibbs said, “We’re not 100 percent sure, but there’s been some evidence that leans towards septage being dumped in our septage system.”
Septage collected from septic tanks is about 100 times stronger than what’s normally flushed down household toilets and drainpipes, explained Gibbs.
The Quigg wastewater treatment plant is the only Rockdale plant that accepts septage from septic companies. The Honey Creek and Almon Branch plants do not.
The spikes in affluent level were first detected around early March, said Gibbs.
After RWR increased septage fees last year, the county saw the number of visits by septage hauler drop dramatically, from more than 50 a month to about two a month. That number picked up to about eight to10 a month after neighboring water systems either stopped accepting septage altogether or also increased prices.
Gibbs said there had been some discussion before the rate hike about what the effect might be. “This is one of the things we hoped wouldn’t happen but we knew was possible,” he said. “That’s what happened with our neighbors,” such as DeKalb County.
“We don’t see it every day, but it is happening occasionally at both plants.”
Illegal dumping is punishable by fines and/or jail time, said Gibbs.
The design phase for the new CATABOL treatment system at the Quigg treatment plant is about 95 percent complete, said Gibbs.
“We expect the construction phase to be advertised pretty soon. With that being said, construction is expected to last three to four months. From there, startup is anticipated to take place in October,” he said. After that, there would be a year’s adjustment period for the system, as the wastewater is slowly directed into completed portions of the project.
“Once it comes online, we’ll go from 6 million gallons per day capacity to 8 MGD capacity,” said Gibbs. “We’ll also have the ability to very easily upgrade to 10 MGD.”
The cost of the new CATABOL system is budgeted at around $4.3 million. Some of the funding comes from a preexisting 2005 bond fund and some comes from the renewal and extension fund, according to Gibbs.